Usable Advertising - When Oprah Winfrey Gave Away $7Million in Pontiac G6's

June 11, 2014

We all know about the infamous 2004 Oprah Winfrey Show moment when EVERYBODY GOT A CAR. It's an unforgettable show and one that stayed with me overtime. Imagine being the person the deliver a brand new car to 276 people; definitely an exhilarating experience. Behind the scenes a different account was taking place - Advertising. Pontiac wanted to draw attention to the most recent G6 and what better way to do this than to allow the most influential and trusted talk show host on the planet give it away. Usable advertising tis one of the most impactful ways to bring brand awareness.


Give & You Shall Receive

It's very important to know the difference between a sell and advertising. I make it a point to tell entrepreneurs and clients advertising reaps brand awareness. A sell is the exchange of currency for goods and services. Giving away your product or service is a form of advertising. Companies spend millions on marketing campaigns. If Pontiac would have taken the traditional route, capital would have been spent and they'd still have 276 cars on the lot. Giving these cars away brought brand awareness to Oprah's multimillion sphere of influence; showed that they are viable company by associating their brand with the Oprah Winfrey brand; and most likely had a pretty good tax write-off. 


As mentioned in 5 Forms of Currency: Why Bruno Mars Didn't Get Paid for Super Bowl Gig pro-bono never goes aways; regardless of success. The key is in allocating dollars that generate some form of revenue be it exposure, trade, or cash. 


How This Applies to You

So you're probably not going to give away cars but cool merchandise like key chains, wine openers, tote bags, magnets, and pens all consist of usable advertising. The key is to give potential consumers something to remind them of you in hopes of advancing to a sell. Take it up a notch, and consider complimentary downloads, ticket to a show, and branded apparel. The goal is for the market to become familiar with who you are and what you do. 


I look forward to uttering something close to "You get a car! You get a car! Everybody gets a car!"




Let's create together. Contact me for a free consultation on Brand Identity, Strategy, Marketing, and more. 678-760-9595 or at



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